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Championship play-off contenders

For every Championship side, automatic promotion is the dream, but for some, the play-offs are the only realistic chance they have of gaining entry to the promised land that is the Premier League. With Norwich City and Watford looking like the pair set for automatic promotion, attention is turning to which sides will make up the four play-off positions, and who will ultimately prevail.

Let’s take a look at the sides currently occupying those positions, assess their respective seasons, and see who is most likely to gain promotion according to the English Championship betting odds.

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It sort of feels like this season is following a similar pattern to last season for Brentford. They looked dead-set for automatic promotion last term, but a few bad results right at the end of the campaign allowed West Bromwich Albion to pip them to the post.

This season, they have occupied second spot for much of the campaign, but Watford have capitalised on the Bees’ indifferent form and have moved ahead of them, sitting nine points clear of Thomas Frank’s side having played a game more at the time of writing.

While there is still an outside chance of automatic promotion, Brentford look set for another tilt at the play-offs, after they lost the final to Fulham last season. Will those lasting scars prove their downfall, or will they be doubly motivated to go one better this time around?

Swansea City

Since their relegation in 2018, Swansea City have usually been there or thereabouts in the top half of the Championship, but as of yet they have failed to regain their place in the lucrative top flight.

Last year, Brentford scuppered Swansea’s play-off hopes, beating them in the semi-finals despite Swansea taking a 1-0 lead from the first leg. This season, there will be a concerted effort to learn from those mistakes and perform better.


Barnsley fans will probably be scratching their heads in disbelief at their sojourn to the upper reaches of the Championship table, and they now have a very real chance of getting a shot at promotion via the play-offs.

So often, momentum plays a huge part in whether or not teams make it into the top six, and Barnsley’s good form since February has propelled them into the mix. It’s a big ask for them to earn promotion given the might of some of the other contenders, but rule them out at your peril.


Reading were the early frontrunners in the Championship this season, and in a way, it is disappointing that their season has descended into a scrap to sneak into the play-offs. Nonetheless, they are a very dangerous side on their day, and in Lucas João they possess one of the most dangerous forwards in the division.

Reading agonisingly missed out on promotion in 2017 when they lost the play-off final to Huddersfield Town on penalties. The Royals will be looking for more luck this time around.

Other contenders

At the time of writing, Bournemouth sit just a point behind Reading with a game in hand, so they could well overtake the Berkshire side and will be desperate to at least make the play-offs in their first season back down in the Championship. The likes of Cardiff City, Millwall and Middlesbrough are in with an outside chance of reaching the top six, and if they can build a bit of momentum in the six games that remain, you just never know.

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